On the hottest day of the year so far, in the second week of All Points East’s second year, Mumford and Sons were in town to play some of their banjo-based-bangers. Of course, it’s no festival with just one act so we made sure to catch some of Mumford and Sons’ special guests at the Gentlemen of the Road curated festival.
Kicking off the day at the North Stage was the rising star Marika Hackman, with her airy vocals and shoe-gazey guitar backing. Her laid-back rock sound is a good way to get the festival going, and there’s enough of a rhythm to keep things feeling dynamic. Over on the main stage, Belgian-Egyptian singer-songwriter Tamino performed a set of enigmatic ballads, fusing folk and Arabic elements together in a heady sonic mix.
Back on the North stage Staves appeared cloaked in billowing white gowns, delivering multi-faceted, angelic harmonies over a foundation of minimalist synths and guitar. But if the slower paced folky crooning wasn’t your bag, you didn’t have long to wait before The Villagers were on stage, delivering thumping rhythms and intricate fingerstyle riffs. Sweet, delicate vocals from front-man Conor O’Brien balance a powerful brass section towards the end of the set.
Later in the day, as the sun was starting to dip, The Vaccines marched their way onto the East stage. Their stage presence was mesmerising, front-man Justin Hayward-Young prancing round the stage and air-grabbing for dear life. Their set is one of back-to-back crowd-pleasers and sure-fire party starters – a welcome dose of energy sure to hype the crowd up before the arrival of one disorientated rascal.
Dizzee Rascal delivered a bold, brash and excitable set full of tracks from his long and varied career. Running round the stage, his energy was infectious, getting the crowd jumping around like they were ‘bonkers’, or on ‘holiday’, or both. Over on the North stage again, Leon Bridges brought the funk with a wonderfully slick performance. Rocking double denim and a gold-crested mic stand, Bridges is just effortlessly cool, and his smooth moves only reminded us of this fact. His music manages to tread the line between nostalgic and fresh, putting a contemporary twist on his classic Texan sound.
And of course, it’s not a Gentlemen of the Road festival without a massive reunion at the climax. Mumford and Sons closed the festival with a career-spanning set of crowd-pleasing singalongs and a huge rendition of the Beatles’ ‘I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends’, featuring all their guests from the day. Nice.
All photos by Rob Waters.